Pulpit Commentary - Micah 4:1 - 4:13

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Pulpit Commentary - Micah 4:1 - 4:13

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§ 4. The prophet suddenly announces the future glory of the temple mountain and the ideal happiness of the people


But. There is no adversative particle here; the verse is merely connected with what precedes without any expressed contrast. What is implied is that it was impossible that the temple, to which God's high promises attached, should lie waste forever. The passage, Mic_4:1-3, occurs in Isa_2:2-4, The question as to which prophecy is the earlier cannot be settled. Possibly both prophets borrowed the language of some earlier work, as Isaiah is thought to have done on other occasions, e.g. Isa_15:1-9. and 16. the community of ideas leading them to the same source of testimony. In the last days; literally, at the end of the days; Cheyne, "in the days to come." It is the usual phrase to designate the time of Messiah, unto which the prophet's thoughts are directed, and for which all preceding events and periods are a preparation. Septuagint, ἐπ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν , "at the last days." The phrase may often suitably be rendered, "in latter days," as spoken not absolutely, but relatively to preceding times. The mountain of the house of the Lord. Mount Moriah, the ruin of which was foretold (Mic_3:12). But the term here seems to include Jerusalem itself. Shall be established, firmly and permanently (as 1Ki_2:45), no longer subject to ruin and devastation. In the top of the mountains; better, on the head of the mountains. The idea is that the temple mountain shall be raised above, and stand forth prominently from the lower hills that surround it and form its basis (comp. Eze_40:2; Zec_14:10; Rev_21:10). The prophet speaks as if he contemplated a physical change, expressing thereby with singular force the notion that the worship of the true God (of which the temple was the symbol) shall be promulgated among all nations of the world; that from the old Jewish centre of religion a new order of things shall arise, not transitory, nor local, but extending to all time and pervading the utmost parts of the earth. And people (peoples) shall flow unto it. The prophet beholds the nations of the world coming up in formal procession to join in the service of the temple. Thus is adumbrated the comprehension of all nations in the Catholic Church. Isaiah says "all nations" in the parallel passage (comp. Zep_2:11 and Zec_8:22, and notes there).


The prophet further explains his last statement The new revelation shall be so conspicuous and so attractive that all men shall hear, and desire to become partakers of it. Many nations. In contrast to the one nation from whom the Leer emanated. They shall exhort one another to resort to the great religious metropolis, i.e. to the true religion. Of his ways. His plans in the moral government of the world, and the way in which he would have men walk in order to please him. For the law (torah); teaching, direction; not the Mosaic Law, but a rule of life (Pro_6:23). This is the reason given by the prophet for the eagerness of the nations to resort to Jerusalem. They would seek instruction at the hand of those authorized to give it (see note on Mic_3:11). The word of the Lord. The revelation of Jehovah, the gospel. From Jerusalem. It is obvious that in a defined sense the gospel sprang from Jerusalem, the place where Christ exercised his ministry, died, rose, ascended; where the apostles received their commission and the gift of the Holy Ghost (Luk_24:47; Act_1:8); the gospel being not set up in opposition to the Law, but being its fulfilment and development.


The effect of this reception of true religion shall be universal peace. He shall judge among many people; or better, between many peoples. The Lord shall be the Arbiter to whom all disputes shall be referred, as in the next clause. When his reign is acknowledged and his Law obeyed, all war and all causes of war shall cease. The gospel is a gospel of peace and love, and when "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ" (Rev_11:15), peace and love shall everywhere abound. (For the phrase in the text, comp. Jdg_11:27; 1Sa_24:12,1Sa_24:15.) Rebuke strong nations afar off. The word rendered '"rebuke" means here "decide concerning," "act as umpire for." The arbitration of the sword shall no more be resorted to. The words "afar off" are omitted in the similar passage of Isaiah. Beat their swords into ploughshares; i.e. they shall practise the arts of peace instead of war. Literally, the short broad sword of the Israelites might readily be converted into a share, and the spear forged into a pruning hook (comp. Hos_2:18; Zec_9:10). Martial has an epigram entitled, "Falx ex ense" (14:34)—

"Pax me certa ducis placidos curvavit in usus:

Agricolae nunc sum, militis ante fui

The reverse process is seen in Joe_3:10, where ploughshares are beaten into swords. Thus Virgil, 'Georg.,' 1.508—

"El curvae rigidum falces conflantur in ensem."

(Comp. Ovid, 'Fast.,' 1.699, etc.)


This verse is omitted in Isaiah. They shall sit every man under his vine. This image of plenty and security is derived from the account of the material prosperity of Israel in the days of Solomon (1Ki_4:25), in accordance with the Mosaic promise (Le Isa_26:4, etc.). It passed into a proverb expressive of peace and happiness (comp. Zec_3:10; 1 Macc. 14:12). The mouth of the Lord of hosts. The great promise is thus confirmed (Isa_58:14). The LXX. usually renders this expression in Jeremiah and the minor prophets by Κύριος παντοκράτωρ , elsewhere by Κύριος σαβαώθ , and Κύριος δυνάμεων . It means, "the Lord of the powers of heaven and earth," the idea being originally that God was the Leader of the armies of Israel.


This verse gives the reason why Israel is thus strong and safe. In the parallel passage in Isaiah (Isa_2:5) it is converted into an injunction to the house of Jacob. All people will walk; rather, all nations walk. Everyone in the name of his god. "To walk" is generally used of moral and religious habits (e.g. 2Ch_17:4; Psa_89:31; Eze_5:6, etc.); so here the meaning is that all other nations adhere to their false gods, and frame their life and conduct relying on the power and protection of these inanities, and, by implication, shall find their hope deceived. And we will walk in the name of the Lord our God. This is the secret of Israel's strength. The heathen can never prevail against the true believers who put their whole trust in the Lord, and live in union with him. By saying we, the prophet identifies himself with the faithful people. Forever and ever. The Church shall never fail. Heathen powers last for a time; the kingdom of Messiah is everlasting.

Mic_4:6, Mic_4:7

§ 5. In this promised restoration all Israel is included, if they choose to accept, the offer.


In that day. The Messianic age of Mic_4:1. Her that halteth; Septuagint, τὴν συντετριμμένην , "her that is bruised;" Vulgate, claudicantem. Under the image of a flock footsore and dispersed, the prophet signifies the depressed condition of the excelled Hebrews (comp. Mic_2:12; Zep_3:19). It is the sick and afflicted here who are to he gathered together, the remnant, that is (verse 7), wherever found, which turns to the Lord in repentance and humility.


I will make her that halted a remnant. The" remnant" is "the election," that portion of Israel which accepts the offered redemption (Rom_9:27; Rom_11:5); and God declares that he will treat this section, now miserable and depressed, as sharers in the Messianic promises (see note on Zep_3:19). As commonly, the restoration from captivity and the privileges of Messiah's kingdom are combined in one foreshortened view. But this "remnant" shall be made into a strong nation, which no power shall overthrow (Isa_11:14; Isa_55:1-13 :22). The Lord shall reign over them. Not through an earthly representative, but by himself (comp. Isa_24:23; Isa_52:7; Oba_1:21; Zec_14:9). In Mount Zion. This prophecy does not necessarily point to any literal earthly fulfilment, but rather to the establishment of Christ's spiritual kingdom, and the revelation of that new Jerusalem which St. John saw "descending out of heaven from God" (Rev_21:10).


§ 6. After a certain period of calamity and captivity the kingdom of David shall be revived.


And thou, O tower of the flock (migdal-edar). There was a village with a tower so called near Bethlehem (Gen_35:21), and it is thought that Micah refers to it as the home of David and as destined to be the birthplace of Messiah. But the context compels us to consider the expression as a periphrasis for Jerusalem, which the prophet here addressee, declaring that the royal power shall be restored to her. It is evidently the same place as the stronghold (ophel, "the hill") of the daughter of Zion. The name "Ophel" is affixed to the southern spur of Moriah, opposite to the Mount Zion, from which it was separated by the Tyropoeon Valley. It was fortified by Jotham (2Ch_27:3) and Manasseh (2Ch_33:14), and on it were the king's house, i.e. the old palace of David, and "the tower that lieth out," or the upper tower (see Neh_3:26, Neh_3:27). This is probably the "flock tower" mentioned in the text (comp. Isa_32:14, where Ophel and the watch tower are named together); and it is so called as having been originally a place of refuge for flocks, or of observation for shepherds. Micah uses the two expressions to represent the power and dominion of Jerusalem. The propriety of the usa of the term "flock tower" is seen when we remember that David was a shepherd before he was king, and that the Israelites are the sheep of the Lord's pasture. The reference to a flock in the prceeding verses may also have influenced the prophet's thought. Owing to a slight variation in the reading, the LXX. renders Ophel by αἰχμώδης , "dark;" so Jerome, "nebulosa;" Aquila, σκοτώδης : Symmachus, ἀπόκρυφος . These translators would refer the term to the ruinous condition of the tower. The first dominion shall come, i.e. the former, original empire, such as it was in the days of David and Solomon, and which had been lost in later times. The LXX. adds, ἐκ Βαβυλῶνος : and hence the Greek expositors explain the passage as referring to the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. The kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. The verb "shall come" is better taken with "the first dominion," and this clause in apposition to the former, "the kingdom of" or "the reign over the daughter of Jerusalem." Sovereignty over Jerusalem, or, as others take it, that appertains to Jerusalem, represents rule over the whole country. In Messiah the glory and power are restored to the throne of David (Luk_1:32, Luk_1:33).


Before this glorious revival the prophet foresees calamity and exile in the nearer future; yet he bids the people not to despair. Why dost thou cry out aloud? The prophet hears the cry of Zion, and asks the cause. Septuagint, Ἱνατί ἔγνως κακά ; "Why knowest thou evils?" from a variation in reading. Is there no king in thee? Hast thou lost thy king? Is this the reason of thy sorrow? The allusion is to the captivity of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah (2Ki_24:1-20; 2Ki_25:1-30.). The loss of the king, the representative of the help and favour of God, was a token of the withdrawal of the Divine protection (comp. Lam_4:20; Hos_13:10). Thy counsellor. A synonym for "king." Cheyne notes that the root of melech ("king") in Aramaic means "to counsel." In Isa_9:6 Messiah is called "Counsellor." The Septuagint, treating the word as a collective, renders, ἡ βουλή σου , "thy counsel." Pangs, etc. The comparison of sorrow of heart to the anguish of labour pains is very common (comp. Isa_13:8; Jer_6:24; Jer_6:1-30 :43; Hos_13:13).


Be in pain. The anguish is not to be resisted, but shall end, like birth pains, in deliverance. Septuagint, Ωδινε καὶ ἀνδρίζου καὶ ἔγγιζε , "Be in pain, and do bravely, and draw near," which is like Aeneas's encouragement to his friends (Virgil, 'AEneid,' 1.207)—

"Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis."

For now shalt thou go forth. The prophet leaves his metaphor, and announces that the people shall "go forth" into captivity. He says "now,"as having the scene before his eyes. They must leave their city, live shelterless in the open country, be carried to a distant land, even to Babylon. Shall dwell in the field; i.e. while they are making their way to the place of their captivity. Thou shall go even to Babylon. This is simple prophecy, and could have been known to Micah only by inspiration. In his day Assyria was the enemy whom Israel had to dread (as Mic_5:5, Mic_5:6), Babylon being at this time in the position of a conquered country, and not becoming again powerful and independent for another century, So Isaiah prophesied of the captivity to Babylon (Isa_39:3-8), if modern critics have not shaken our faith in the genuineness of that chapter. Micah does not define the time of the Captivity, or the agents; he notes merely the place whither the Jews were at last to be deported. Even in this case "Babylon" may have its typical import, and be taken to represent the great world power arrayed against the chosen race; and the prophecy may look forward to other fulfilments in succeeding ages. Some commentators think that Babylon is here mentioned as the most distant country known, or as a portion of the Assyrian empire. Others suppose that Sargon transported some Israelitish captives to Babylon to replace the rebellious Babylonians whom he exiled to Palestine, and that thus Micah was naturally led to represent the Judaeans as following their brethren. Whichever explanation we take, there is no reason to consider that the reference to Babylon is the interpolation of a late editor of the prophetic writings. There shall thou be delivered. In Babylon deliverance shall arise. This prophecy was first literally fulfilled in the return from captivity under Cyrus; it is further fulfilled, under Christ, in the rescue of the true Israelites from the bondage of sin and the world.


§ 7. Rescued from Babylon, Zion overcomes all enemies in the strength of God.


Now also; and now. A new scene is presented in contrast to the view in Mic_4:1-4. Many nations are gathered against thee. Primarily the Assyrians are meant (Isa_33:3), whose armies were composed of various nationalities (Isa_22:6; see below, Mic_5:5). Pusey thinks that the reference is rather to the attacks of petty enemies, e.g. in Maccabean times, and in the Samaritans' opposition to the rebuilding of the temple. Cheyne would place Mic_4:5-10 in a parenthesis, and connect the present with the ideal description in Mic_4:1-4. Let her be defiled; i.e.. profaned, despoiled of her boasted holiness and inviolability. LXX; ἐπιχαρούμεθα , "we will rejoice." The Vulgate, lapidetur, points to her punishment as an adulteress, which does not suit the context. Let our eye look upon Zion. The heathen anticipate with malicious pleasure the sight of the humiliation of Jerusalem (comp. Oba_1:12, Oba_1:13).


But the enemies who came to exult over Zion do not know God's design while blindly working it out. God's people are not to be destroyed, but their adversaries. They know not the thoughts of the Lord. The heathen, who were the instruments of God's wrath against his people, knew nothing of his purpose in thus afflicting them, nor perceived that they themselves were drawn together for punishment. He shall gather (hath gathered) them as the sheaves into the floor. Their blindness is proved by their not perceiving till too late that God has brought them together before Jerusalem, as sheaves are brought into the threshing floor, in order to be broken up and destroyed (comp. Isa_21:10; Jer_51:23). The metaphor is carried on in the next verse. Various are the explanations of the prophet's reference in this prophecy. Many commentators see in it a reference to the destruction of the army of Sennacherib (2Ki_19:35); others discern a defeat of the Scythians after the return from captivity; others, again, place it in the times of the Maccabees; and others interpret it of the defeat of the mystical adversaries of God's Church adumbrated in Eze_38:1-23.; Zec_12:1-14.; and Rev_20:1-15. But the prophet has not one definite event in view, but looks forward to the general conflict between the powers of the world and the Church, of which the historical events and material enemies were the types. Certain historical circumstances may exactly suit the prediction, but they do not exhaust it. And indeed we do wrong to seek for minute and definite fulfilment of particular predictions. Such utterances are often conditional and are modified by subsequent circumstances. The prophets are concerned with great moral truths and the righteous government of the world, and are not always to be interpreted with literal exactness.


Arise. Shake off thy sorrow and fear and despair. And thresh. Tread thine enemies underfoot, now that they are gathered in the floor, as the oxen tread out the corn (Isa_41:15, etc.; Jer_51:33.) Thine horn. The horn is an emblem of power and victory, as appertaining to the wild ox, the most powerful animal in Canaan (Deu_33:17; 1Ki_22:11.) The metaphor of threshing is dropped for the moment, but resumed in the next clause. Hoofs. In allusion to the mode of threshing mentioned above (Deu_25:4; 1Co_9:9). People; peoples. Israel shall crush all the nations that rise up against her. I (God) will consecrate. So the Masoretic text; but the second person, which the ancient versions give, is preferable. Septuagint, ἀναθήσεις , "thou shalt dedicate;" Vulgate, interficies. Thou, Zion, shalt devote their gain unto the Lord. This consecration, or devotion, to the Lord in the case of living things involved death, the restitution to the Lord of the life which he had given (see Le 27:21, 28, 29; Zec_14:21). Thus the spiritual Israel, purified by suffering, and redeemed, shall consecrate to the Lord the power of the world; and all the wealth and might of earth shall be subservient to the glory of the kingdom of God,



The Messiah's spiritual kingdom.

These verses call us away from the contemplation of sin and its effects as set forth in the previous chapters, and hid us turn our thoughts to the golden age that rose before the prophet's vision, and animated and cheered his heart in the dark days in which his lot was cast. We live in happier times. Much that was to him only distant expectation has become fully realized by us. "Blessed are our eyes," etc. (Mat_13:16, Mat_13:17). Still, favoured as we are, the kingdom of Christ has not, even in our own day, attained unto the highest perfection. The noontide splendour of his rule has not yet been reached. The cross has brought the crown, and the Lord Christ now reigneth as King in Zion; but u we see not yet all things put under him." There are still many difficulties and discouragements, and there is much to sicken and sadden the hearts of all to whom his Name is precious, and his truth and kingdom dear. And amidst all this we do well, like this seer, to look on to the ultimate complete triumph which the Christ shall assuredly win, and by this bright vision to gain the renewal of heart and hope. We have indicated here—


1. Its spirituality. We shall assuredly lose sight of the beauty of these prophetic descriptions if we give to them a literal and material significance. This, indeed, is what the Jews themselves did, and hence the true Messiah was by them "despised and rejected." "As upon the figure of David the prophetic figure of the Messiah is developed, so upon the figure of Jerusalem is the prophetic figure of the holy community of the future" (Lange). Connecting Mic_4:1 with the last verse of the previous chapter, we are reminded that whilst the material kingdom was marked to fall, and should, in due course and as the result of national guilt, decay and pass away, yet this mournful apostasy of the chosen race should be rendered in the Divine wisdom "the riches of the world" (Rom_11:11, Rom_11:12). The old economy should eventually disappear, but the new dispensation should follow. The long promised Messiah should appear and establish a spiritual kingdom, the subjects of which should be renewed and sanctified men; to which kingdom higher privileges and honours should be attached than Judaism had ever presented, and the influence of which should extend to the wide world.

2. Its pure and righteous principles of government. "For the Law shall go forth of Zion," etc. (Mic_4:2). These have been framed with a due regard to the interests of all the subjects; they are not only designed to regulate the outward conduct and actions of men, but they go deeper and effect the heart and the secret springs of action. The great law of the kingdom is love—love to God and to man. "Love is the fulfilling of the Law" (Rom_13:10).

3. Its comprehensiveness. "Peoples shall flow unto it" (Mic_4:1); "And many nations shall come" (Mic_4:2). Judaism was marked by its exclusiveness. Its privileges were confined to a particular nationality. But lo! it is here declared that the kingdom of the Messiah should be world embracing. It shall become indeed "a great nation," for "unto it" all peoples and tribes "shall flow." The King whom Jehovah has "set upon his holy hill of Zion," and who shall "reign in righteousness," shall sway his sceptre at length over a ransomed, regenerated, happy world.

4. Its perpetuity. "It shall be abidingly established" (Mic_4:1). "The Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even forever" (Mic_4:7). The kingdoms of this world are unenduring. "They all shall perish." They rise, progress, attain unto their zenith, and then decline and pass away. Egypt and Tyre, Assyria and Babylon, Greece and Rome, powers that once dominated the world, their glory is laid in the dust, their pomp has passed away like a dream, their works survive only in chambers of antiquity, and their deeds have only a record in historical lore. So perishes the glory of this world! But this spiritual kingdom of the Lord Christ lives and shall never fail. Its throne shall never be shaken, its riches shall never be impoverished, its glory shall never be dimmed. "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom," etc. (Psa_145:13).

5. And hence, its pre-eminence. "It shall be exalted above the hills" (Mic_4:1). It shall attain unto heights such as no worldly power has ever reached, and its King shall enjoy distinction and honour such as earthly monarchs have never known. "He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high" (Isa_52:13); "And he shall bear the glory" (Zec_6:13).

II. THE INFLUENCE OF THE MESSIAH'S RULE. It is here predicted that this should be of the most healthy and beneficent nature. Under his sway:

1. Enthusiasm should be enkindled. "Come, and let us go up," etc. (Mic_4:2). Men drawn to him in the spirit of whole souled devotion should seek to lead others to participate with them in the enjoyment of the blessings he imparts. "The love of Christ" has "constrained" men to the consecration of all their energies to his service. So Paul (Act_20:23, Act_20:24). Xavier said, "You say they will kill me by poison. It is an honour unto which such a poor sinner as I dare not aspire; but I am ready to die ten thousand deaths for the salvation of a single soul." In our own day we have seen men thus impelled to go forth to distant and uncivilized tribes; and when they have been stricken down by fever ending in death, lo! others have been found ready to be "baptized for the dead."

2. Knowledge should be diffused. "And he will teach us," etc. (Mic_4:2). The true Messiah is also "the true Light," "the Light of men," "the Light of the world." He came to rule, but his rule should be an enlightened one. Where his influence touches there is light. He dissipates the darkness of error, superstition, idolatry; and his enlightening power shall extend until the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth" (Isa_11:9).

3. Obedience should be rendered. "And we will walk in his paths" (Mic_4:2). The connection between this and the preceding sentence is very intimate. All true knowledge is designed to affect the conduct and life. Knowing and doing are closely related (Joh_13:17). How purifying and elevating Christ's moral influence upon the world has proved! Wherever the influence of his truth is felt, there, as sure as day succeeds night, a higher morality becomes developed.

4. Peace should be established. (Mic_4:3.) The Messiah is "the Prince of Peace" (Isa_9:6). "Glory to God in the highest," etc. (Luk_2:14), was the song of angels as they welcomed his advent. Strange, then, that men should ascribe to his religion the prevalence in the world of war and conflict. His religion has often been made the pretext for entering into deadly strife; but underlying this there has been some ambitious design which has been the real though concealed cause. The growing disposition amongst the nations to seek peaceful solutions of existing difficulties, and not to draw the sword until these have been exhausted, is an effect of the influence of the principles of Christ upon society at large. The universal dissemination of his truth shall be followed by the complete fulfilment of this glowing prediction (Mic_4:3).

5. Security should be realized. (Mic_4:4.) In the Assyrian monuments representations are given of men in a reclining posture, with the vines in rich profusion over their heads, suggestive of quiet and rest and freedom from everything calculated to disturb and alarm. And this is the idea expressed here. Fear had taken possession of the hearts of those whom the prophet was addressing. They thought with sadness and dismay of the awaiting judgments to follow national sin. The enemy had come well nigh to the gates; but lo! the seer cheers them by the prospect of happier days which should at length dawn upon them. As it had been with the nation in the peaceful days of Solomon, so he declared it should be in a spiritual sense under the rule of the Messiah. "Such is that most quiet fearlessness which the law of Christ bringeth as being the law of charity, peace, and concord."

6. Restoration should be effected. (Mic_4:6, Mic_4:7.) Into the enjoyment of these high blessings even they should be brought who had erred from God's ways, who had "halted" in his service, and had divided their allegiance between him and Baal. They must, in consequence of their sin, be "driven out" and "afflicted" and "cast off;" yet in their exile he would watch over them, seeking them in his deep compassion, "devising means that his banished be not expelled from him" (2Sa_14:14), and in his own time and way these should be brought in with "the fulness of the Gentiles," to form "a strong nation" over whom he would reign forever and ever (Mic_4:6, Mic_4:7).

III. THE CERTAINTY OF THE REALIZATION OF ALL THUS EXPRESSED. The seer throughout uses the language of holy confidence. And he was warranted in this; for:

1. Such is the Divine purpose. The issue is divinely guaranteed. God has promised the kingdom to his Son.

2. This Divine purpose has been repeatedly expressed. "For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Mic_4:4).

3. That which God has purposed and declared, his power can and will fulfil. Despite the humble circumstances and conditions through which the chosen of Heaven would have to pass, "the kingdom should come to the daughter of Jerusalem"—"the first or former dominion;" i.e. the rich spiritual honour which had been promised to David's line should be bestowed (Mic_4:8), for such was the Divine will and which the Divine power would assuredly accomplish. Our hope for a bright future rests upon the same foundation. And as God requires us to put him in remembrance of his Word, we will say, "For Zion's sake," etc. (Isa_62:1); and will cry in the words of our own Milton, "Come forth out of thy royal chamber, O Prince of all the kings of the earth! Put on the visible robes of thy imperial majesty; take up that unlimited sceptre which thy Almighty Father hath bequeathed thee; for now the voice of thy bride calls thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed."


Enthusiasm in religion.


1. As indicating the possession of loving devotion to God.

2. As prompting to endeavour with a view to the spiritual well being of others. (Mic_4:2, "Come, and let us go up," etc.; Joh_1:41, Joh_1:42, Joh_1:45, Joh_1:46; Joh_4:28, Joh_4:29.)

3. As being contagious. For, all aglow themselves, they will be the means of inspiring others with the same fervour.

II. THIS SPIRIT, UNLESS UNDER WISE CONTROL, MAY PROVE INJURIOUS. It may seem a very simple matter to invite others to God, to say to them, "Come, let us go up," etc.; but it is possible, by undue familiarity of approach, or by extravagance of language, to alienate those it is desired to win.


1. Of seeking to understand God's truth more dearly. "And he will teach us of his ways." The consciousness of his imperfect attainments will keep him humble, and preserve him from mere dogmatism and self-conceit.

2. Of endeavouring to be obedient in heart and life to God's will. "And we will walk in his paths." His realization of the importance of ethical practical life will preserve him from either thinking or advocating the false notion that piety consists in profuse verbal declarations and mere outward professions.


Higher spiritual life.

"Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord." We are too prone to be content with living at a very low level of spiritual attainment. We need to hear and heed the voice of God's own Spirit addressing us through our own consciences, and through all the holy influences encompassing us, and bidding us leave the ordinary plain on which we have been content to dwell, and to ascend the mount of the Lord, and thus to rise to the nobler heights of spiritual privilege and goodness. "Let us go up," etc.

I. WHAT IS THIS HIGHER SPIRITUAL LIFE? It is a life of obedience to God and of faith in him. It is a life of holy and hallowed fellowship with the invisible. It is a life sustained and strengthened by hidden Divine springs. It is not perfect life, but life characterized by constant endeavour after the perfect. It is a life characterized by the patient endurance of trial, the successful resistance of temptation, and the cheerful performance of duty. It is a life animated by hopes entering "within the veil," and in which is increasingly realized union with the spiritual world.


1. The ministration of the truth is designed to this end. The advancement of the good in Divine knowledge and in the varied graces of the Christian character is one aim of the Christian ministry (Eph_5:11-13).

2. The commonest duties of our daily life may be so discharged as to be made to contribute to our spiritual elevation. The aim should be to make every duty subservient to the great end of our spiritual advancement.

3. The sorrowful experiences of our life are all designed to secure to us "more life and fuller." These constitute the threshings of the spiritual man by means of which God would separate his servants from evil, and enable them to enter into the higher joys of his kingdom.

4. And this soul elevation is to be secured not only by receiving, but also by imparting, holy influences. We rise ourselves as we invite others to rise; as we speak to them the encouraging word, and hold out to them the helping hand. Ruskin reminds us that the name which of all others is most expressive of the being of God is that of "the Helpful One," or, in our softer Saxon, "the Holy One." And we may each know what one has beautifully called the holiness of helpfulness.


1. There will be greater enjoyment in connection with religious privileges than can otherwise be experienced.

2. Tranquillity will possess the heart amidst the disappointments, changes, and bereavements of life.

3. A clearer apprehension of the truth of God will be gained. (Mic_4:2.)

4. More effective service to God in the world will be rendered. Certain saints of God belonging to the past are sometimes set forth as having been specially eminent, and as though the same altitude could not be reached nowadays; whereas we are to be "followers" of such (Heb_6:12), and the "helps" they used am as available to us. Use them, and say

"Go up, go up, my heart!

Be not a trifler here;

Ascend above these clouds,

Dwell in a higher sphere.

Let not thy love go out

To things so soiled and dim:

Go up to heaven, and God

Take up thy love to him."


God our Teacher.

"And he will teach us of his ways." How?

I. BY WORKING IN OUR HEARTS THE SPIRIT OF TRUE HUMILITY. There must be humility in order that we may apprehend spiritual things. We must become "as little children" would we enter the kingdom of truth. And this disposition is fitting; for what, after all, are we but children in relation to such knowledge? "Embryos we are all." Too many, forgetting this, and cherishing the opposite spirit, misapprehend or pervert the meaning of God's truth. Pride of intellect is cherished, and, strong and dogmatic in their adherence to false intellectual conceptions, they miss the highest truth. "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way." As low trees and shrubs are free from many violent gusts and blasts of wind which shake and rend the taller trees, so humble souls are free from those gusts and blasts of error that rend and tear proud lofty souls." "The high tide quickly ebbs." "The valleys laugh with fatness when the hills are bare." "I thank thee, O Father," etc. (Mat_11:25, Mat_11:26).

II. BY CONSTRAINING US TO CHERISH THE SPIRIT OF HEARTY OBEDIENCE. By the gentle constraints of Divine love the will is brought into harmony with the higher and perfect will of God; and to the man thus obedient there is unfolded the glorious treasures of Divine wisdom and knowledge. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant" (Psa_25:14); "Then shall we know, if we follow on," etc. (Hos_6:3).

III. BY IMPARTING UNTO US SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT. The heart being rendered humble and obedient, light springs up within; a spiritual insight is imparted; the unction of the Holy One rests upon the man; higher perceptions are his; he apprehends and understands truths which formerly were unperceived or distorted by him. "Pure in heart," he "sees God;" spiritually minded, he discovers spiritual things. God's ways stand revealed to him, and God's Word is no longer a dead letter, but is instinct with life and power to his soul. Then, with an earnest desire to enter into the full significance of spiritual realities, and with a deep consciousness of our own weakness and need of guidance, we do well to cry, "Lead us in thy truth and teach us;" and to rejoice in the encouraging assurance, "And he will teach us of his ways."


Obedience to the Divine will.

"And we will walk in his paths." The idea is—living obediently to the will of God. Observe—

I. GOD HAS REVEALED HIS WILL UNTO MAN. "The Law has gone forth," etc. (Mic_4:8). The revelation of what God requires of his creatures has been given

(1) in the commandments unfolded to Moses on Sinai;

(2) in the full and perfect exposition of those commandments given in the teaching of Christ;

(3) in the complete transcript of them presented in the Divine Teacher's spotless character and life.

II. TO OBEY THAT WILL INDICATES THE POSSESSION OF TRUE PIETY. Sincere piety does not consist in outward observances, although these have so high a value that we are not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together" for Christian fellowship and teaching; nor does it consist in Church association, although there are many advantages resulting from Christians banding themselves together that thus they may be helpful to each other in the spiritual life, and by combined, action the more effectually do God's work; nor does it consist in the repetition of a Creed, however admirably conceived and expressed, and however desirable it may be for us to be well grounded in the foundation doctrines of our holy religion; but it consists in obedience to the will of God, and in seeking, like the great Exemplar, to act in harmony with God's holy Law.

"Nor name, nor form, nor ritual,

But simply following thee."

III. IN THIS OBEDIENCE LIES THE TRUEST WELL BEING BOTH OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND OF THE RACE. Walking in these paths, it is found that they are "right paths," that they yield "peace" and "pleasantness;" "mercy and truth" also abound to the obedient, whilst the wide adoption of this course by the children of men is pointed to as the token of the coming of "the latter day glory." "A world wide Christ-likeness is the great necessity. If, in imitation of him, there were truth on every tongue and kindness in every heart, gentleness in every spirit and obedience to God in every will, purity in every life and blamelessness in every character, the bloom and blessedness of Eden would be seen tomorrow," Too many, alas I still resolve that "they will walk every one in the name of his god" (Mic_4:5); but our hope for humanity lies in the growing number whose feet are being turned into "the ways of righteousness," and who are impelled to say, "And we will walk in his paths." "We will walk in the Name of the Lord our God forever and ever" (Mic_4:5).

Mic_4:9-13; Mic_5:1

Through trial to triumph.

There is a very natural connection between these and the previous verses. The seer has presented a glowing picture of the ultimate triumphs of the Messiah's kingdom. In choicest language he has unfolded the nature of the Messiah's rule, and the beneficent effects to be secured thereby. And now he reminds us that this victory should be won by suffering—that God's order is through trial to triumph. Notice—

I. THE EXPERIENCE OF SORROW AS PREPARATORY TO JOY; OF CONFLICT AS PREPARATORY TO VICTORY. (Mic_5:9-13; Mic_5:1.) Whatever view may be taken as to the true application of these verses, it is very clear that they refer to deep sorrow, through which the nation must pass before the manifestation of the true spiritual King whose coming is so clearly indicated in the chapter following. Captivity must be experienced; conflict must be engaged in with "many nations;" loss of rulers and leaders must be sustained; war an siege must be felt. Yet all these should prove but preparatory to the experience of joy and victory; they should be but as the pangs preceding birth; out of and following these throes there should come the establishment of a kingdom which should never be moved, and which their material kingdom, now being so shaken, even in its most prosperous and peaceful days only faintly symbolized. And this is ever the Divine order of procedure. It is the all-wise appointment of God that his servants should pass through trial and be made perfect through suffering. He takes the seed and plants it in rough soil, and as the result he causes to arise beauteous flowers. The tear often precedes the smile. The thick cloud gathers over our heads, and lo! afterwards the triumphant arch spans the sky, telling of the Divine faithfulness and love. We must suffer would we ultimately reign; we must bear the cross would we wear the crown. God's servants are soldiers, and the soldier must "endure hardness" (2Ti_2:3), and engage in sharp conflict ere he reaps the warrior's reward. His followers are trees of righteousness, and God prunes his trees that they may bring forth much fruit" (Joh_15:2).


1. There's "a needs be" for these sorrows. (Mic_5:10.) It is here declared that there was a necessity for the sorrows here predicted. The trials are referred to as experiences that must be, and that could not be avoided. The travail must be endured, the captivity must be experienced, the discipline must be passed through. The nation had woefully transgressed, and only thus could it be purged and purified. As the crushing of the seed results in a more abundant increase, so the oppression of God's servants should result in the upspringing of "the peaceable fruits of righteousness." "Of sorrow, sanctity is born." Here is one solution of "the mystery of suffering." It is designed to work purification; it is a healthful discipline. It is not that our Father-God is wanting in sympathy that we have to pass through adverse scenes, but because his sympathy is so large and so perfect that it extends to the whole of our being. When he says, "Be in pain," etc. (Mic_5:10), it is not that he does not feel with us, but rather because his sympathy is so large that he deigns to lift us up to a higher level, and to lead us to attain unto a purer and more perfect character and life; and hence, whilst "he will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax," he will also "send forth judgment unto victory" (Isa_42:2, Isa_42:3).

2. There is an overruling Providence. (Mic_5:11, Mic_5:12.) In these verses the heathen nations are represented as encouraging each other to make a decisive onslaught, upon the favoured people, and as speaking as though, their plans, could very easily be executed, the overthrow of Judah be effected, and they gaze with satisfaction upon the downfall and desolation (Mic_5:11). But there was a higher than any mere human power swaying the destinies of the peoples of the earth. The Lord God omnipotent was reigning. He had his purposes and plans of which, the nations took no account, but which nevertheless were to be developed. And in the unfolding of these all the dark designs of the evil would be overruled, and whilst the nation of his choice should. thus be tried as by fire, and so have its dross consumes, they who, prompted by their own mercenary and ambitious ends, assaulted it, should be brought to utter confusion and shame (Mic_5:13). The world still abounds in evil doers who am pursuing their own ends, and that they may gain these are ever planning and contriving harm; but it may well comfort and strengthen our hearts, amidst the anxiety and distress such occasion, that there is still an overruling Providence guiding human affairs, and that under God's all-wise and loving direction good only shall eventually come to the good, whilst the counsel of the wicked shall perish, and the arm of their power be broken.

3. There is the Divine abiding presence. This is implied in Mic_5:9. The prophet, abounding in deepest sympathy with his people in their calamities, would, nevertheless, have them feel that they were not left utterly destitute; that, though earthly rulers had failed them, there was One who ever abides, and who, if they but trusted him, would bear them safely through all. He who had been the King and Guide of their nation before earthly monarch had ever been appointed over it (1Sa_12:12) would not forsake them now that human supports had given way, but would make their present sorrows to end in higher joy than they had formerly experienced (Hos_13:9, Hos_13:14). Nor need we fear in the time of trouble, so long as it remaineth that "the Lord of hosts is with us," etc. (Psa_46:7).

4. There is ultimate deliverance. (Mic_5:10.) The Lord would assuredly "turn again the captivity of Zion" (Psa_126:1-6). Through fire and through water they should be brought out into a wealthy place (Psa_116:12). Weeping might endure for a night, but joy should come in the morning (Psa_30:5). And so with his servants in every age. The way he would have us take, despite all its difficulties and discouragements, shall bring us at length to the palace and to our crown.


Mic_4:1, Mic_4:2

A new Mount Zion.

The threat of Mic_3:12 has been fulfilled. Mount Zion, the glory of the nation on account of its situation, its buildings, its history, and its religious associations, has become as a forest, or as desolate heaps of ruins. But while the prophet gazes through the tears which patriotism and piety bring to his eyes, as in some dissolving view a new vision unfolds itself before him. Instead of a ploughed field and a ruinous mound, he sees an exceeding high mountain, a glorious city, and countless multitudes flocking towards it. It is the new Mount Zion.

I. ITS ELEVATION. There were other hills or mountains that already were or soon would be of note among men, such as the "high places" of a corrupt worship in Judaea and Samaria, the huge artificial hill of Babylon sacred to Belus, the acropolis of Athens, the seven hills of Rome. But this Mount Zion was founded on the summits of the world's loftiest heights, and towered above them all. Thus the mountain is seen to be spiritual and the elevation figurative. It is a vision of "the latter days," of the days of the Messiah, when the new kingdom of God is set up. Because it is "the mountain of the house of the Lord," it is thus exalted. Illustrate from Ezekiel's vision of the "very high mountain" (Eze_40:2), and the sublime conclusion of it, "Jehovah-Shammah" (Eze_48:35; and of. 1Ti_3:15). "This mountain of the Church of Christ transcends all laws, schools, doctrines, religions, synagogues, and philosophies, which seemed to rise among men like mountain tops" (Corn. a Lapide, in Pusey). It is "a city set on a hill."

II. ITS CONGREGATION. The prophet sees a stream of worshippers ascending that hill; not an unfamiliar sight in the old days of the literal Zion. But much earnestness is needed to scale this lofty mountain. And it is a miracle of grace that not only the chosen people of God, but "the peoples" of the world lying in wickedness, should be attracted by a Church so lofty and so pure. For, as the prophet watches, he sees strange companies gathering, of varied colours, costumes, and languages—negroes from Ethiopia, Chinese from the land of Sinim, and pale-faced strangers from the western isles of Europe. Contrast the mountain-like tower of Babel, man's scheme of unity, issuing in dispersion, and this Mount Zion, God's way of union, attracting a congregation from all kindreds and peoples and tongues (Isa_55:8, Isa_55:9). The prophet hears their language as they encourage one another," Come ye," etc. They thus confess:

1. Their ignorance. "He shall teach us of his ways"—a comprehensive term (Psa_25:4, Psa_25:8, Psa_25:9).

2. Their dissatisfaction. Their old paths had been "broad;" "destruction and misery had been in them. Henceforth they desire to walk in other "paths," in God's way of holiness.

3. Their confidence; that the God of Jacob alone was both able and willing to supply their need. The prophet foresaw what Christ still more clearly predicted (Mat_8:11, Mat_8:12), and what we are seeing in these days of missionary enterprise.

III. ITS EMANATIONS. As light and heat stream from the sun, and fragrance from the flowers, so from this new Mount Zion, this city of God, there stream forth the very blessings which the nations need—truth, light, life. It is a Divine power that first draws this congregation towards the Church of Christ (Joh_6:44, Joh_6:45). And the blessings they need and receive are summed up in two terms.

1. "The Law." They receive it as a rule of life, as an ideal of daily conduct. It goes forth as a stream of blessing which can turn the wastes of heathen life into a paradise. But more than law is needed:

2. "The Word of the Lord." This is a more comprehensive term. It includes the revelation of his will, his mercy and grace, "the word of the truth of the gospel." This goes forth with all the attractiveness of a message of mercy (Luk_24:47, etc.), but also with all the authority of a law (Act_17:30; 1Jn_3:23). The preaching of the cross proves itself the power of God. This word of the Lord has free course and is glorified. No wonder that such blessings follow as are described in the following verses.—E.S.P.

Mic_4:3, Mic_4:4

The peaceable fruit of righteousness.

The wonders of Micah's vision (verses 1 and 2) are not yet at an end. He sees a succession of the most improbable and incredible events, as the nations return from their pilgrimage to the new Mount Zion to their distant capitals and homesteads. With those distant and "strong" heathen nations there are associations of horror and dread in the minds of the Hebrews, especially of the godly among them. Illustrate this from what we know through Hebrew prophets and historians of the Gentile nations near and afar off; e.g. border wars and frequent invasions of the Philistines (2Ch_21:16, 2Ch_21:17), Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, and others (Psa_83:1-18.; and cf. the impressive messages of judgment in Amo_1:1-15. and 2.). Egypt, at one time their oppressor or invader (2Ch_12:1-16.), later on their untrustworthy ally, always the home of degrading idolatries (Isa_19:1-25.; Isa_30:1-7). Assyria, the seat of a relentless despotism, the captors of their northern brethren, casting its war cloud over Hezekiah's kingdom (Nah_3:1-19.). Beyond these were the mountaineers of Media, the barbarous tribes of the far north, "Meshech and Tubal," and the sons of Greece in the distant west. The gloomy vision of Ezekiel (32) graphically describes how the sword and bloodshed are bound up with the histories of these and other nations. All these are seen welcoming a new King, who "shall reign in righteousness," new legislation and new customs. The strangest of all these new customs is that "the peoples that delight in war" are seen changing their weapons into instruments of peace, and enjoying a tranquillity equal to that of the palmy days of Solomon. The mystery is explained by the fact that the word of the Lord had gone forth from Jerusalem. We learn—


1. It reveals God's love. It thus comes as a revelation, startling, almost incredible to heathens, in whose minds lust not love, hatred not mercy, are bound up with their thoughts of God. That central verse of the New Testament (Joh_3:16), a "miniature Bible," as Martin Luther called it, applied by the Spirit of God, has broken many a rocky heathen heart, and opened the way for the blessings that God's love has prepared for sinful souls (1Jn_4:19).

2. It inspires men's hope. Those who were once living "having no hope, and without God in the world," find that all things are become new. All the most bright and buoyant emotions, love, hope, joy, are called forth by the gospel of God. The brightest visions of a golden age in the future which heathen poets have sung about are seen to be possible under the reign of a righteous and merciful God. They are "saved by hope."

3. It awakens men's consciences. An educational process ensues. The dormant conscience is awakened; the blind conscience sees the light of truth; the blunt conscience is made sensitive and tender. Thus gradually things which were tolerated in the individual or the community are branded as unchristian, or even infamous. Illustrate from 1Co_5:1-13. and 6. In those whose spiritual education is most advanced, every thought is brought "into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Thus gradually the average standard of morality is raised first in the Church and then in the nation, and the gospel of God is seen to have prepared the way for the reign of God.

II. THE REIGN OF GOD WILL BE A REIGN OF PEACE. War is a terrible defiance of God and of his authority, and yet it is one of the most popular forms of wickedness. The press, the clubs, "the forces," often make it hard even for a government calling itself Christian to resist the gusts of popular passion which sweep nations into war. Even as late as 1882 we were told that on board the ironclads off Alexandria the countenances of the officers fell as the sight of a flag of truce made it possible that after all their new guns might not be tested by a bombardment. Yet even this unclean spirit will be exorcised by the power of the gospel of Christ, which has already been at work in many ways; e.g. "the truce of God" in the Middle Ages, providing for the suspension of hostilities during Advent, Lent, and other seasons; the sparing of the lives of prisoners; the care and kindness shown towards the wounded; the power of the public opinion, even of a minority, to restrain governments from hastily rushing into war; the introduction of arbitration, in which the British Government set so honourable an example at Geneva in 1872. In such cases it may be said that God, through the judgments of upright men, is called to "judge between many peoples," and "reprove" even strong nations when they wronged their neighbours. Thus gradually war will be banished, even as duelling and other abominations have been. "Fraternity" will be one of the watchwords of the future, and war will be regarded as fratricide. Lucian says of Christians, "Their first Lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brethren." Christianity is working towards the restoration of that ideal. Then Solomon's days shall be reproduced in more than their ancient glory. New princes of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts at the court of the Prince of Peace, whose subjects shall "dwell safely, and be quiet from fear of evil." The glorious visions of Psa_72:1-20.; Isa_60:1-22; etc; shall be fulfilled, "for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it."


1. That the only hope of true national righteousness is in the reign of Christ.

2. That the Christian who witnesses for unpopular truths is the noblest among patriots.

3. That the sanctification of individual souls through the power of the gospel is the surest method of securing the ultimate and universal reign of Christ on earth.—E.S.P.

Mic_4:6, Mic_4:7

The restoration of Israel.

It is the Gentile nations for whom the blessings of "the last days" have just been predicted (Mic_4:2-4). The new Mount Zion of the Messiah's days will have a magnetic power on "the East and the West" (Mat_8:11; Joh_12:32). But Israel, through whom these blessings reach the nations, shall not be excluded from a share in them. Yet the form of the prediction reminds us of the abject condition of God's ancient people and of the gradual extension of the glories of Messiah's reign over them.

I. THEIR ABJECT CONDITION. They are described as:

1. Halting. This was the result of internal infirmity or of injury from without, or of both. The Jewish people at the advent were suffering both from ecclesiastical and moral corruptions, which made them figuratively like the folk at Bethesda, "halt, withered, impotent."

2. "Driven out." Multitudes had been driven out of their heritage in Palestine by the decrees of conquerors or the oppressions of foreign tyrants. Centuries before, Jeremiah had declared, "Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the King of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar King of Babylon hath broken his bones" (Jer_50:17). In subsequent centuries similar captivities or oppressions we